Samantha Diamond, operations director at Better Healthcare Services, describes a working week during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How things are so different from this time last year. I would have spent the week going round our offices, visiting the teams, sitting in on sales meetings and doing the general day-to-day work and support of an operations director.
This past week was quite different.
But I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever been more proud of our carers, all our field based clinical teams and everyone in the offices and working at home.
With news headlines bringing sobering reports about how quickly this new strain of COVID is spreading, we looked to see how we could strengthen what we’re doing at Better Healthcare.
At short notice I decided to run a refresher training course on the importance of wearing PPE correctly. All our staff are fully trained, and do this as a matter of course, but in this pandemic there is no room for any margin of error. For the safety of our clients, our carers, their families and the wider community we have to be extra vigilant.
Our staff embraced it with dedication and professionalism, which made me appreciate, once again, just what special people we have here.
Together with our deputy clinical operations manager, Fran Kyprianou, we put together training sessions dedicated to the importance of PPE. We ran four sessions on Zoom – with nearly four hundred carers taking part. On a personal note, it was lovely to be able to see so many of our key staff – and meet some of our new carers who have joined since the pandemic hit – and thank them for everything they are doing. I’m grateful so many exceptional people have joined us when the need for care has gone past what any of our expectations would have been at the start of this.
The training cemented knowledge and good practice, and our company trainer Annie Porter will be incorporating this enhanced aspect to our programme. Like Fran, Annie’s background is in nursing and she sets extremely high standards.
It was also a week which saw me attend the NHS England COVID-19 Vaccination Cohort 2 Webinar for Frontline Social Care Workers. It was good to hear that care workers are being given high priority, and the hope is for all carers to be vaccinated by 15th February. We’re currently in contact with all the local authorities pertaining to each of our seven branches; it’s reassuring that some have already started the vaccination process. They were keen to stress that key workers shouldn’t contact their GP. This puts additional strain on an already over-stretched system. The details of your vaccination will come via your BHC office, not your GP.
One of the most important points to note – and one we can’t stress enough – is that even when vaccinated you must still continue to wear your PPE, follow social distancing guidance whenever possible, and keep washing your hands. We will also still continue to test until we’re advised otherwise.
At the time of writing, positive cases remain high in England, which is to be expected with the second strain of the virus. If we all stick to the guidelines, these figures will fall. We’ve seen first-hand that many people who test positive have no symptoms at all. That’s why it’s so important to stay at home, adhere to the rules, and only go out for essential reasons. Only by doing so can we be sure we’re not inadvertently spreading the virus. Lockdown can be challenging, but this vaccine is a game-changer. Soon we will be in a stronger position to get back to more of a sense of normality. If we each play our part we can stay healthy, and stay in work to help support the people who really need us.
Looking after our well-being
Now, to take a moment for ourselves. People who really need us aren’t just those we provide care for. It can be people in our team who need our support. It can be understanding the need for self-care. At times, we’ve all struggled through this and some days can feel worse than others. But please remember, you are not alone. We are all in this together. Please, if you are finding things tough, reach out and talk about how you’re feeling.
Once again, on behalf of all the management team, I’d like to thank everyone in the Better Healthcare family – our carers, our field base clinical staff and our office teams – for all their hard work. You’re simply the best.